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National News

Qld premier calls for national virus talks

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has renewed calls for national cabinet talks on COVID-19, saying her NSW counterpart supports the idea.

More than 860 people are in Queensland hospitals with the virus, with 16 in intensive care. The number of active cases has passed 45,000, with the peak of the latest wave still two weeks away.

Another 18 people have died, and 6900 new cases were recorded in Queensland.

Ms Palaszczuk says she spoke with NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet before the State of Origin decider in Brisbane on Wednesday night about the impact of rising cases and hospitalisations in his state.

She said he supports her call for a national cabinet meeting so Australian Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly can brief leaders about the situation.

"We're all on the one page, and you know, the pressures are obviously across the nation, they're not just in NSW and Queensland," the premier told Seven's Sunrise program on Thursday.

"So we just want the up-to-date information, which is what we used to regularly get.

"We don't want a long meeting, but we just want to get the advice and the information, like, is this just going to be a short, sharp wave, or are we going to get another wave in September?"

Ms Palaszczuk said leaders should discuss how people who were off work sick with new virus subvariants could be best supported.

She said it was up to the Commonwealth to determine pandemic leave payments, but existing financial supports may not be enough for some people.

"We are now seeing people getting the virus twice, which may mean additional time off work,'' Ms Palaszczuk said.

"We are seeing some people being hit harder, so that means that they are off work for longer than the seven days (of isolation) ... We need to look at those particular examples."

However, Federal Health Minister Mark Butler said the decision to end pandemic leave payments was put in place by the former government.

"But at some point, you need to end emergency payments that are put in place in an emergency period," he told reporters on Thursday.

"We don't have the financial capacity to continue to fund these emergency payments forever."

Meanwhile, Queensland's aged care sector is under pressure from the current virus wave, with at least 261 facilities dealing with outbreaks by the end of last week.

That number could rise substantially in the coming weeks, said Paul Sadler, interim chief executive of the Aged and Community Care Providers Association.

"It could reach similar levels of impact on aged care as we had back in January, and possibly even higher than that," he told ABC radio on Thursday.

Mr Sadler hoped there wouldn't be "complete lockdowns" of aged care facilities during the coming peak, but said some places were restricting all visitors for "a day or two" after an outbreak was confirmed.

© AAP 2022